A year ago, we got a call from a hospital administrator who was desperate for copies of The Interfaith Book of Comfort and Healing to share with her patients who were now cut off from family due to the pandemic.
Inspired by her situation, we wrote an e-mail similar to this one, encouraging local Baha’i communities to make these booklets available as a service project.
Today, I received news of a community who had done just that. Their project is one of the most well-organized, multi-faceted, and yet simple to implement service projects I’ve seen in my 46 years as a Baha’i.
I will let Lisa Beavers of Sumter County Florida give you the details.
COMMUNITY BUILDING SERVICE PROJECT:
Disseminate Interfaith Compilations to the residents, family, activity directors and staff of Senior Living/Assisted Living/Nursing Homes and Hospitals in the Sumter County, FL area with invitations to an Interfaith Devotional every week.
Inspired by Feast Letter from NSA on 4/7/2020 –
“Let us also pray for the mitigation of the pandemic’s severity and for the safety and health of those at greatest risk – the elderly, the infirm, the poor, and the homeless.”….let us all remember the connection between prayer and service…nothing could be more important than offering them hope, by doing all in our power to share with them the healing message of Baha’u’llah. As the beloved Master, ‘Abdu’l-Baha, advises:
O ye friends of God! True friends are even as skilled physicians, and the Teachings of God are as healing balm, a medicine for the conscience of man. They clear the head, so that man can breathe them in and delight them in and delight in their sweet fragrance. They waken those who sleep. They bring awareness to the unheeding, and a portion to the outcast, and to the hopeless, hope… Wherefore, look not on the degree of your capacity, ask not if you are worthy of the task: rest ye your hopes on the help and loving-kindness, the favors and bestowals of Baha’u’llah – may my soul be offered up for His friends! Urge on the steed of high endeavor over the field of sacrifice, and carry away from this wide arena the prize of divine grace.
Consulted with the Local Spiritual Assembly of Sumter County, FL and they offered their support and several members of the assembly helped to edit and construct the introduction letters to Chaplin of the local Hospital, Activity Directors and Residents of Assisted Living Homes in the Sumter county and ads produced to assist this service project.
Found thru Special Ideas the Interfaith Compilations available to disperse: Buying books in bulk and delivering them to the homes saved money. Also, having them in individual envelopes 6 x9, addressed as a Gift to the Residents of … & the Activity Directors picked them up outside during the pandemic.
Book of Comfort & Healing – Prayers & Inspiration from Many Faiths
Meditations on the Life to Come – Comfort & Prayers from Many Faiths
Prayer Cards for Healing and Refresh and Gladden My Spirit
The Interfaith Prayer Book – mostly used for The Hospital Clergy Staff
True Wealth For Troubled Times – A Baha’i Perspective
Researched the homes (Assisted/Senior Living/Independent Living/Nursing Homes) in our jurisdiction of our county. Most of them had 3 divisions. Made a list of all homes, addresses, phone numbers and then called to get the name of their Activity Director or Life Enrichment Director. Fact finding at this point.
Created a standard letter with the help and approval of LSA to go to 8-10 facilities Activity Directors or Life Enrichment Directors.
Created a flyer: WELCOME TO INTERFAITH DEVOTIONS ON ZOOM
Every Saturday at 10:00 am – this allows residents and their family to attend and even staff of the homes.
In addition, we created devotions from the compilations by chapters in this book to allow the residents or friends follow along and that way made it easy to participate in offering a prayer of their choice. We welcomed anything someone wanted to share and leave time to socialize too.
UHJ – In Devotional gatherings: Feelings of fellowship and common cause are generated, particularly in spiritually heightened conversations that naturally occur at such times and through which the “city of the human heart” may be opened. NSA, Feast of Qawl Letter, 11/21/20
Learned thru Zoom.com (easy) – how to host Zoom meetings. Signed up for a year subscription to be able to host the meetings for up to 100 people with no time restraints. Important to learn how to schedule a meeting and how to share a screen to view the readings for the devotion.
Created an individual packet with a label on front – Gifts to the resident of Name of Resident Facility. Packet included:
2 Interfaith Compilations
Book of Comfort & Healing – each at bulk rate of 1.30 for (150 copies) normally 3.95 each.
Meditations on the Life to Come each at bulk rate 1.25 each for 120 books (normally 3.95 each)
Letter of introduction to the Residents of the Home
One Prayer Card for Refresh and Gladden My Spirit (used like a book mark in compilation).
Note: All material had a label on it: Used address labels to print at home.
IN CALLING THE ACTIVITY DIRECTORS OR CHAPLAINS AT HOSPITALS
Simply, say a prayer or remover of difficulties and follow your heart with introducing yourself and the reason you are calling them.
I used this example in speaking to the Activities Director: As an individual I wanted to create a Community Development Project and because of the uncertain times we are living in, I wanted to reach out to all of the Assisted Living facilities in our county and offer these free compilations of Comfort and Healing Prayers and Inspirations from 10 different Faith Traditions. So far, this has been very well received by other senior resident facilities. I was hoping to mail you a sample of these compilations to review. Then you could let me know after you receive this, how many you may want to have for your residents. To be safe, all of the books can be individually packaged in an envelope addressed as a Gift to the residents. Because of the Pandemic, family and friends cannot always visit the residents so I created a weekly Interfaith devotion that all are welcome to attend for fellowship and writings and prayers that can help ease the cares, comfort the hearts and united the hearts in a sacred acknowledgement of the mysteries of life and the values held in common. By the way how many residents do you have? Do any of them use Zoom? Maybe your staff may also want to have these or some extra for the family of the residents?
1.) Some facilities wanted only 3 copies for their lending libraries.
2.) Many wanted to give every resident with a packet with 2 compilations and copy of the Interfaith Devotion flyer and Letter to the Resident. So far we have passed out over 400 packets to residents.
3.) Only a few could not accept the compilations because of the corporate rules due the pandemic. One activity director said, she was so impressed with the material and as soon as the rules are lifted she wanted 82 copies for every one of their residents.
4.) One other activity director wanted 120 packets and was going to hold a special meeting to pass it out to their residents. She said this material is so moving and important.
Having reached all the Senior Living facilities in our County, we will continue to check in with them if they need more gift packets. Plan to help neighboring Baha’i Groups in other Counties to help reach their Senior Living Facilities, & Hospital Chaplains in the same way. Currently, reaching out to my neighbors, friends, family and the Baha’i Community to give this healing words of comfort to anyone needing it. Have been sending the same type of letter and packet with invitations to the Devotional on Saturdays to continue the spirit of Community Building and again the response has been warmly received. So powerful to share the healing Word of God!
Note: All of this information, including sample cover letters and invitations is also available as an information tab on our web page for our Book of Comfort and Healing
Of course, sending things to hospitals and senior living facilities is only one of the ways you can give people encouragement in these uncertain times. We have a whole range of products focused on comfort and healing, including our metal healing prayer coins, our Three Tools of Healing poster/pamphlet, our comfort booklets, In Search of Healing and When You’re Down and Troubled, the longer compilation Ocean of Healing, our Healing Prayer Cards and more. Click here to see them all.
All of these things can be sent through the mail so you can create strong spiritual connections while remaining physically distant. To make it easy, we carry A7 envelopes to go with the Book of Comfort and Healing, and A6 envelopes for The Ocean of Healing and our Gift of Prayers. Remember to attach enough postage.